It's December and my production of THE TIN WOMAN has just closed at Next Act in Milwaukee. The play was not easy to mount in that space but I think we acheived a strong production, thanks especially to the beautiful "water-color" projections by Aaron Sherkow. The play is part comedy, part drama, part fantasy. It tells the story of a heart transplant recipient who has not yet come to terms with still being alive. Her journey (and parents the spirit of her heart donor) leads her to meet the family of the man who's heart she received. It's ultimately very moving and for many, like myself, was a new window on the miracles of medical donation.
During our rehearsal process we had visits from several organ transplant recipients and also famiy members of donors. Some of these folks were also present in talkbacks and had a table in the lobby of the theatre to educate the public and encourage them to register as organ donors. I was already registered, but I believe in organ donation even more strongly now. It's amazing, all of the ways a person's body (after they are gone) can help save or transform others' lives. I'm thankful to have had the experience on many levels.
In other news, it's only a matter of weeks now before I leave for my Fulbright in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I'm busily finishing the logistics of travel, housing and finances, as well as course planning and so on. I'm also plugging away with Russian lessons, trying to learn as much as I can before plunging myself into that Russian-speaking world. I'll be teaching in English of course, but my day to day life will necessarily be largely in Russian. In rural areas outside of Bishkek, people largely speak Kyrgyz (a Turkic language), but in Central Asian cities the lingua franca is Russian. So that's been my language focus for some months now. I'll continue lessons while there and hope to be intermediate before the summer. We'll see. I will certainly be comfortable by then ordering food in restaurants, buying groceries, taking taxis and making small small-talk.
Another highllight of the winter will be a conference in Kochi, India for all of the Fulbright researchers and scholars throughout South and Central Asia. I toured India with John Kishline's play SUCCESS in 2011, and we visited many of the major cities, but didn't get down to Kerala, where Kochi is. I'm very much looking forward to exploring that city.
Thankfully, it looks to be an exciting winter and spring.
(Photos by Tony Freund)